By: Oberst Von Berauscht (A Toast) –
Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) is a Prisoner of War recently returned from the Korean Conflict after conducting a heroic escape, saving most of his unit in the process. Guided by his obsessive mother (Angela Lansbury), he takes advantage of this good fortune by entering politics, quickly becoming a major player. Shaw is an unknowing pawn of a major conspiracy, having been brainwashed by his captors. Making matters worse, his own mother turns out to be a communist agent, controlling him through post-hypnotic suggestion. Major Ben Marco (Frank Sinatra) uncovers the truth behind the conspiracy, but convincing others proves impossible. Time is of the essence however, as Raymond Shaw is being prepped by his handlers for a mission with the potential to destabilize the country.
Some plans come together quite well
Director John Frankenheimer’s film is a masterpiece of Cold-War era satire, carefully balancing a serious tone against a fairly outrageous storyline. Frankenheimer was a true master of the thriller, and The Manchurian Candidate is no exception, holding up well even against modern films in terms of sheer tension and suspense. Much of the credit is due to the solid cast; Frank Sinatra, Janet Leigh, Laurence Harvey, and others give it their all. However, the real pleasure here is Angela Lansbury as Shaw’s domineering mother.
Not even close, Mother’s Glare is worse…
Most people are more familiar with Lansbury as the kindly crime-solving spinster on Murder She Wrote, or any number of films where she played kindly old spinsters. All these years of niceness surely were penance for playing one of Hollywood’s greatest villains. Few in film history are as cold and conniving. Every Mother eventually learns to use a disapproving stare on her children, but only Angela Lansbury could master this art. After finishing my first viewing, I immediately called my mother to make sure she still loved and wanted me; such is the power of guilt. In fact, on the American Film Institute’s list of top 50 villains of all time, she sits directly ahead of the Terminator and just before Mankind.
Not this one… The one from Bambi
This gives you an idea of her effectiveness, as not even Cyberdyne’s greatest Techno-Horror is able to stop a raging mother.
Essential viewing,watch the hell out of this.
Take a Drink: whenever Shaw’s mother bullies him and/or triggers his hypnosis.
Take a Drink: when Communism is mentioned.
Do a Shot: when any onscreen character drinks